As you enter our church and walk down the aisle, you will notice two tall staves fixed to the end of the pews. One has a symbol of a bishop’s mitre and the other has a crown. They are known as ‘finials’. These are the symbols of office of the Parish Wardens. The one with a mitre is the Priest’s Warden (appointed) and the other is for the Peoples’ Warden (elected).
These wands go back to the earliest days of the Anglican Church. It is reminder that Wardens are not just administrators and book-keepers. With the priest, they share a responsibility of the spiritual welfare of the parish. For that reason, they are kept in the church and not in the parish office. On important occasions, the Wardens, on behalf of the congregation, bear these symbols when they welcome the Archbishop or Regional Bishop when they enter the church for worship. They are also used in the entry processions on major festivals: Christmas, Easter and Patronal festivals. These signs of office are presented to the Wardens when they appointed and elected after an AGM. So, the primary function is liturgical, and are a healthy reminder that the work of lay leaders is as important as that of the priest.
In years past they had another function, to jab parishioners who had fallen asleep during a sermon! Bear in mind that sermons in those days often went on for an hour! This is not a problem at the Church of the Ascension.